My advice on learning to drive

Learning to drive; possibly the most frustrating/rewarding/expensive/worthwhile experience I've been through to date! Although I passed my test 12 years ago I remember it all so vividly so wanted to quickly share my experience with you in the form of some top tips- whether you've just started learning, about to take your test or returning to the wheel after not driving for a long time I hope these few tips are helpful.. I wish I'd taken the time to read up on advice before being way to eager with the whole process of getting behind the wheel!

Be patient
I'm one of those people who has no patience whatsoever. So learning to drive for me was a real struggle to begin with. I wanted immediate results and expected to be on the way to passing my test within around 2 months. 

I nailed the theory part of the test no problem, swatted up for a few weeks, booked the test and came out with full marks and a huge smile. This left me feeling like I was the best student my driving instructor had ever taught and that I was ready to take the next step and book in for my practical test... after 8 weeks (around 10 lessons) of being behind the wheel... oh how wrong I was. 

My first test was an absolute disaster- of course it was likely to be after such a short amount of time behind the wheel.. after a nail biting 40 minute driving session I came away £65 worse off and with 2 majors and 16 minors.  

Don't be a silly bugger like me and rush into the test after just a few weeks- its dangerous, the tests costs a lot and it will only knock your confidence when taking more lessons! I passed second time round after taking around 40 lessons overall- I recently read somewhere that the UK average for driving lessons is around 47 so just take your time, learn from the experts and keep your cool!

Choose your instructor wisely

Whilst learning to drive I had 2 driving instructors, both were really good but after the failing of my first test I decided to find a new instructor. This was because the first instructor could only fit me in for lessons at really busy times out on the roads; between 5-6.30pm on Friday evenings.  I found it helpful for learning to drive on busy roads but we didn't get enough time to practice manoeuvres and do more open road practice, it was always a lot of stopping and starting combined with hill starts. Stressful or what! 

The second driving instructor I had was able to collect me from sixth form on a Wednesday afternoon during my free period and we'd go to the quiet residential areas to practice parallel parking, emergency stops and generally just a bit of calm, un-pressured driving away from the hectic queues and scary busy roundabouts.  When learning with the second instructor we quickly identified that I had a fear of roundabouts actually; I'd get clammy hands as we approached one, I'd snap at him and become very flustered so of course roundabouts became the focus of my driving lessons for a good few weeks until I overcame my fear!

Family help

I can vividly remember the occasions when I'd venture out with my mum or dad in the car for some practice. They were not happy moments I must admit. Dad has always been a nervous passenger in anyones car so god knows why he ever agreed to take me out in my little Clio for some practice between my formal lessons. Mum wasn't quite as bad on the occasions she accompanied me but I do seem to remember most of the sessions with both of them ended up in heated arguments and tears. My advice: just don't do it!!

Leave your practice time to your lessons and take advice from the professionals as I found I only picked up bad habits.. sorry mum and dad!!

Keep up the practice, even when you've passed

I was lucky enough to have a car sitting on the drive waiting for me once I'd passed my test. Much to my parents complete horror I remember getting back from my test ( the one i passed of course!) mid afternoon, picking up the keys out of the kitchen and just jumping in the car and heading off without anyone else in the car.  It felt very very strange but hugely satisfying to know that I had my freedom and could go wherever I wanted to without relying on them for lifts.
Soon after passing my driving test I moved down to London to go to university and found that I didn't need a car, couldn't look after it properly ( imagine McDonalds wrappers,shoes,clothes, parking tickets all over the back seat.. yeah that was my car alright) and just couldn't afford to keep it running so I eventually left it with my parents. They tried to rescue the poor thing but it was beyond repair and eventually it got scrapped so I ended up going a few years without driving. 

Fast forward a few years to when I moved to Sheffield and I found that I wanted to start hiring cars for day trips, moving houses and visiting family around the UK.  The first few times of hiring I felt pretty nervous but the more and more I keep the practice up the more confident I feel. I find it helpful to specify, when hiring, that the car shouldn't be a big powerful thing and specifically ask for little city run about cars- the lady behind the desk at the hire company we regularly use always look a bit shocked when I complain about getting a free upgrade to a big family car! 

I actually find hiring cars a great way to test drive potential cars that we might want to buy in the future; we've spent a week in a Mini, a week in a Fiat 500 and more recently a long weekend in a Toyota Aygo. My fave, by far, was the Aygo, I found it really dinky so its easy to park and just the right size for a trip to the supermarket to load up on groceries. 

I do really miss having a car full time- more so recently whilst being pregnant too- I find it hard to walk far these days and it although its not a huge concern of mine it would be so comforting to know that when the big day comes for baby to arrive we'd just have to nip out to the car and head to the hospital. At the moment it looks like its going to be a taxi job! People do keep saying to me "oh when the baby is here you'll need a car" .. but we'll see! 

If you are wanting to learn to drive or would like to book onto some refresher courses if you haven't driven for  while then all you need to do is visit Book Learn Pass and search for instructors local to your area. There are also some great tips on the website about how to pass your theory test, modules around the highway code and much much more!

Are you learning to drive at the moment? Do you have a car? If so, tell me the pro's and con's of having one full time!


*This post is in collaboration with Book Learn Pass- however, all options are 100% my own!


  1. I'm trying to learn to drive at the moment and it's an absolute nightmare, I get so stressed out at the thought of the whole process but thank you for your advice!


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